Portal:Catholicism

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Introduction

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The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within Rome, Italy.

Catholic theology is based on the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.

Of its seven sacraments the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.

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Pope Leo XIII

Catholic social teaching comprises those aspects of Catholic doctrine which relate to matters dealing with the collective aspect of humanity. The foundations of modern Catholic social teaching are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter Rerum Novarum. A distinctive feature of Catholic social teaching is its concern for the poorest members of society. This concern echoes elements of the Jewish law and of the prophetic books of the Old Testament, and recalls the teachings of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament, such as his declaration that "whatever you have done for one of these least brothers of Mine, you have done for Me." Another distinctive feature of Catholic social doctrine is the way in which it has consistently critiqued modern social and political ideologies both of the left and of the right: communism, conservatism, socialism, libertarianism, capitalism, liberalism and Nazism have all been condemned, at least in their pure forms, by the Popes at one time or another.
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Saint Peter's Square, or Saint Peter's Piazza (Italian: Piazza San Pietro), is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome (the Piazza borders to the East the rione of Borgo). The open space which lies before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII.

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Thomas is the first known Bishop of Finland. Only a few facts remain about his life. He resigned in 1245 and died in Visby three years later.The only reference to Bishop Thomas during his episcopate in Finland is a letter signed by him in Nousiainen in 1234, which granted certain lands around the parish to his chaplain, Wilhelm .The letter is the first surviving letter ever written in Finland.No further information on bishop's activities has survived before he was granted resignation by Pope Innocent IV on 21 February 1245. According to the Pope, Thomas had admitted committing several felonies, like torturing a man to death and forging a papal letter. Church representatives to oversee the resignation were the Archbishop of Uppsala and the Dominican prior of the Dacian province. Thomas donated his books to the newly established Dominican convent in Sigtuna and went on to live his last years in the Dominican convent in Visby, Gotland. He died there in 1248, shortly before the Second Swedish Crusade which cemented the Swedish rule in Finland for more than 550 years.
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St Charles Borromeo Church

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Saint Lucy by Domenico di Pace Beccafumi.jpg

Saint Lucy of Syracuse, also known as Saint Lucia, Santa Lucia, or Saint Lukia, (traditional dates 283-304) was a rich young Christian martyr who is venerated as a Saint by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Her feast day in the West is December 13, by the unreformed Julian calendar the longest night of the year; she is the patron saint of blindness. Lucy is one of the very few saints celebrated by the Lutheran Swedes, Finland-Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians, in celebrations that retain many indigenous Germanic pagan pre-Christian midwinter light festivals. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Her actae tell that Lucy (whose name means "light") was a Christian while Diocletian was persecuting and martyring Christians. She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse. Miraculously unable to move her or burn her, the guards stabbed her and killed her.

Lucy means "light", with the same Latin root, lux, as "lucid," which means "clear, radiant, understandable." Ironically, St Lucy's history is shrouded in darkness: all that is really known for certain is that she was a martyr in Syracuse in Diocletian's persecutions of A.D. 304. Her veneration spread to Rome, so that by the 6th century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.

Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery, legends grew up, reported in the acta that are associated with her name. All the details are conventional ones also associated with other female martyrs of the early 4th century. Her Roman father died when she was young, leaving her and her mother without a protecting guardian. Her mother, Eutychia, had suffered four years with a "bloody flux" but Lucy having heard the renown of Saint Agatha the patroness of Catania, "and when they were at a Mass, one read a gospel which made mention of a woman which was healed of the bloody flux by touching of the hem of the coat of Jesus Christ," which, according to Legenda Aurea, convinced her mother to pray together at Saint Agatha's tomb. They stayed up all night praying, until they fell asleep, exhausted. Saint Agatha appeared in a vision to Lucy and said, "Soon you shall be the glory of Syracuse, as I am of Catania." At that instant Eutychia was cured.

Eutychia had arranged a marriage for Lucy with a pagan bridegroom, but Lucy urged that the dowry be spent on alms so that she might retain her virginity. Euthychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered, "...whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death." News that the patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to the ears of Lucy's betrothed, who heard from a chattering nurse that Lucy had found a nobler Bridegroom.

Her rejected pagan bridegroom denounced Lucy as a Christian to the magistrate Paschasius, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the Emperor's image.

The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away they found her so filled with the Holy Spirit that she was stiff and heavy as a mountain; they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Even with a dagger through her throat she prophesied against her persecutor. As final torture, her eyes were gouged out. She was miraculously still able to see without her eyes.


Attributes: cord; eyes; eyes on a dish; lamp; swords; woman hitched to a yoke of oxen; woman in the company of Saint Agatha, Saint Agnes of Rome, Barbara, Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Thecla; woman kneeling before the tomb of Saint Agatha
Patronage:
eyes
Prayer: Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask You, through the intercession of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that they may serve for Your greater honor and glory. Saint Lucy, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions. Amen.

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Benedict XVI


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Divine Mercy

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